Wendy Williams facing criticism – again – for ‘dismissive’ treatment of catfish victims

Image courtesy The Wendy Williams Show

Talk show host Wendy Williams is under fire again, this time for a program
about the recent “catfishing”
perpetrated by a former contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Sherry Pie (whose non-drag name is Joey Gugliemelli) was
exposed on Facebook earlier this month by an aspiring performer, Ben Shimkus,
who posted what he called “a weird story” about the competitor on the popular
reality show’s current season. Several other young male actors came forward
soon afterward with similar tales, with Gugliemelli issuing an apology a few
days later.

Gugliemelli was disqualified from “Drag Race” as a result of
the incident, although the majority of the season had already been filmed and episodes
featuring the disgraced contestant continue to air – despite the
subsequent revelation
of Gugliemelli’s long
history of fraudulence and sexual misconduct allegations, who for years had used
false identities to pressure people into performing sexual acts on video in
hopes of a non-existent casting opportunity.

The talk show host enters the picture because of a recent
episode of “The Wendy Williams Show” on which she discussed the controversy
with comedian and personality Michael Yo during a segment called “Inside Scoop.”

During the conversation, Yo summed up the story as follows:

“So this Ben guy, said that Sherry Pie catfished him, said
she was a casting director, would send emails to him, back and forth, getting
him to do lewd things…like masturbating on audition tapes. Is that lewd enough
for you?”

He then went on:

“I mean, why didn’t these people do research? I’m not
blaming them, but they’re young, the guys are young – they’re 23, 24 years old,
trying to get their big break…so, man, but you have to do the research.”

Williams and Yo’s glib treatment of the controversy went so
far as giggling over the fake name Gugliemelli had used for one of non-existent
movies he had enticed his victims with – “Bulk.”

Shimkus wrote about the experience of watching the segment,
which he described as “dismissive and vapid,” in an
article penned for GayCities:

“When I watched this video clip of Michael Yo getting an audience to laugh
at my story, I immediately became angry. With time to reflect, I am attempting
to maintain moral integrity while not becoming bitter about this situation that
has put me on national television, I’ve found other ways to interpret this

“The nine of us who came forward told flagrant accusations of sexual
harassment, and when we spoke out together, it was the queer and queer ally community
who believed us, and supported us.  I have received messages directly from
hundreds of people, who have been so generous and shared their stories.

“We have a lot of work to do to advance our conversations around how we
treat people who speak out against sexual harassment and coercion.”

Following the article, many voices in the LGBTQ community called for Williams’
syndicated talk show to be cancelled, spreading the hashtag
#cancelwendywilliams on social media.

The incident is the latest in a string of tone deaf missteps that have plagued
up for the host, who last month was pressured
to apologize
for comments she made that were seen as anti-LGBTQ.

“The Wendy Williams Show,” which is on temporary hiatus due to the coronavirus
outbreak, could not
be reached for comment

Published at Mon, 16 Mar 2020 01:08:23 +0000